Submitted by viravira on 9 August 2010   •  Blog

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Time flies when you’re having fun, and time flies with turbo jets when you’re diving! That’s what I found out when I had my first diving experience. Indonesia has many world-class diving sites, and I’m lucky to have my try-dive last month in one of them: at the Togian Islands, Tomini Bay, Central Sulawesi.

I was quite nervous when starting the brief diving lesson with Chrispin Gibbs, the top diving instructor (and top manager) at Black Marlin Diving Centre on Kadidiri Island, one of the prominent islands at the mini archipelago. Luckily he was patient with a newbie like me. Even though he didn’t talk nor smile much, his calmness and 11 years of experience in dive-instructing comforted me.

After I got all the equipments on, we went to the shallow water about 10 meters from the prep area, with the oxygen tanks on my back! Oh dear Lord, it was heavy as hell! I had to bend my back forward just like a lack-of-calcium old lady so as not to fall backwards.

The practice went smoothly except for water clearing from the mask. I had to redo it 3 times to get it – quite – right. But overall I did good, so we went to the next step: the diving trip. Hooray! Nervous? Yes. Excited? Very.

Travel Indonesia: Togian

The diving spot for a try dive is at the Mildred’s Rock. It’s only about 5 minutes of boat ride, located at the other side of the Kadidiri Island. We only went down to 10 meters deep, the safe limit for uncertified divers – if you do it by the book. This spot was chosen because there’s a circle of sand area at the bottom with coral reefs at the sides. It’s perfect for beginners who obviously have minimum skill in controlling their movements when diving, hence tend to kick around their fins to living corals. Now that’s dangerous.

I had always wondered how divers do their back flips when going in the water. It looked difficult. Turns out, it’s not at all. I only had to sit on one side of the boat and then lean my body backwards, and the weight of my tanks sort of pulled me down to the water, and in just split seconds I was already floating in the surface, breathing with my regulators. Wow, fantastic, I loved it!!

Next, I basically did whatever Chrispin did. Like most of first time divers, it was quite hard for me to keep a stable buoyancy, so he sort of put his hand over me to keep me at the right level and sometimes gave me signs to inflate or deflate my BCD (it’s the jacket thingy).

We went around the circle and the corals were all at our left side, housing most of the fishes. Actually, most of the fish types and other sea creatures are quite familiar to me from snorkeling in the previous days, but who would’ve thought that I saw A STING RAY! Yaayy!! It was hiding in a coral because sting rays apparently like the sands, so I actually only saw half of it, from the middle part to the tail. Still, it was magnificent to me 🙂

I also got to touch a black sea cucumber, a very mushy dude, which Chrispin grabbed and wanted me to poke it. And then also a starfish, which I’ve actually touched before. And then I started to get hungry. I even thought of giving a thumb-up sign to Chrispin, which means going up towards the surface, but I’d feel silly passing up more diving moments just because I got a little hungry, and it felt only a little while that we were down there, probably about half an hour. Even my oxygen indicator showed that I still had half of supply to go on.

Suddenly Chrispin gave me a sign to go up, and so we did. And then I peaked at his watch, turns out that it was 11.33 AM already, that means we were an hour underwater! Wow..! Time passes so fast underwater.

Travel Indonesia: Togian

When diving, various kinds of things came to my mind. I thought about my Mom not approving me to dive, about keeping my buoyancy stable, about whether or not I’d strike some corals, about how cool it was to finally see a stingray, about the meditative silence and sounds of bubbles and ‘Darth Vader’ breath from my regulator, and I wondered how the fishes communicate with each other (it might sound silly, but I’m curious how, I mean, they don’t make sound that’s audible to us humans, and yet they do swim around in schools, and stuff like that), and last, the hunger started to bug me.

When walking along the beach to get to our cottage, I had this mixed feelings of excitement, contentment, relax, and… enlightenment. Somehow. And I couldn’t wait to tell Mumun and Reno about what I just experienced. I had to share it.

The 50 m walk (more or less) between cottages seemed so long and another thought hit me: “Why don’t I stay at Togean Islands for at least a month, to just lay back, enjoy life on the beach, and dive some more, or maybe work at one of the cottages. Or maybe I could do that somewhere else, doesn’t have to be right there in Togean. As long as it’s somewhere nice, joyful, relaxing, and allows me to always get in touch with natural beauty.” Hm, I might just do that someday.

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